A lawsuit filed on behalf of a transgender girl living in Texas reveals that officials in the state have already begun the process of investigating families that are providing their children with gender-affirming care.
Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) issued an order directing the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to “conduct prompt and thorough investigations of any reported instances of Texas children being subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures.” The order came days after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a legal opinion which incorrectly claimed that gender-affirming “procedures and treatments…when performed on children, can legally constitute child abuse.”
The opinions held by Paxton and Abbott fly in the face of medical and psychological research on the subject. Several studies have shown that gender-affirming treatments can be beneficial — and even lifes-saving — for transgender and nonbinary children.
Transgender and gender diverse children “who have access to gender-affirming medical care experience improvements in mental health and often show mental health comparable to their cisgender peers,” one analysis of multiple studies concluded.
Abbott’s and Paxton’s line of thinking also contradicts what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has said on the issue.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that youth who identify as transgender have access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space,” the organization wrote in March of 2021.
Bills that limit such care, the AAP added, “allow policymakers rather than pediatricians to determine the best course of care for our patients.”
The lawsuit filed by the parents of a transgender child in Texas notes that the state has already begun investigations into families’ personal lives. State officials within DFPS investigated the family of one of its own employees, the lawsuit says; that employee was placed on administrative leave last week.
Investigators came to the worker’s home on Friday and demanded the medical records of the child (named as Mary Doe in the lawsuit). The child’s parents (named as John and Jane Doe) refused to hand them over.
According to the lawsuit, investigators have only alleged one item against the family: that Mary Doe “may have been provided with medically necessary gender-affirming health care and is ‘currently transitioning from male to female.'”
The suit also contends that the actions of the governor and the attorney general have had a negative impact on Mary Doe’s well-being.
DFPS’s investigation “has caused a significant amount of stress, anxiety, and fear for the Doe family,” the lawsuit says, adding:
Mary has been traumatized by the prospect that she could be separated from her parents and could lose access to the medical treatment that has enabled her to thrive. The stress has taken a noticeable toll on her, and her parents have observed how their daughter who is typically joyful and happy, is now moodier, stressed, and overwhelmed.
Abbott’s campaign against allowing transgender or nonbinary children from being able to access care would have serious consequences. Chase Strangio, a lawyer and trans activist based in New York, has suggested that far right attacks on gender-affirming care essentially amount to fearmongering.
“The majority of care prescribed to minors is nonsurgical, and no medical care is provided at all prior to puberty,” Strangio wrote for Truthout in December. “When care is provided, sometimes in the form of medication to delay puberty or gender-affirming hormones to initiate puberty consistent with gender identity, it is done to alleviate severe symptoms of distress.”
Such care can be life-saving, Strangio added.
“Gender-affirming health care saved my life, and I will never stop fighting back against those who are seeking to take it away from our community,” he said.
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